Did I cycle to another planet? Oh wait there are Turkish flags everywhere.
I thought there would be a couple of tourist attractions, and probably that you have to pay for. But Cappadocia is actually massive. It spans a huge region in central Turkey and incorporates a few villages too, including where I stayed for a week, in Göreme. There are magical fairy chimneys everywhere. People live in them. There are shops and restaurants in them. You can even sleep in them.
True to the nature of Cappadocia I also slept in a cave…in a nice homely hostel called Ali’s Guest house for 5€ a night. Although I’m not so fond of hostels any more, it’s nice at this point in my journey to have some conversations with other travellers, and it’s definitely a good place to sit back and relax. But as for staying in a dorm with six people (inside a cave), it’s about as good as it sounds. And smells.
I don’t mind the tourists here actually. The menu is in English for once so I can finally understand what the ingredients are in my food. And they sell beer, a first in a few hundred miles. Also, all the tourists are Chinese and I get to practise for when I’m actually in China. Maybe I won’t cycle to China and just stay in Cappadocia? Come to think of it, Cappadocia is the first place I’ve been to in Turkey that I’ve actually seen tourists. For well over 1000km I hadn’t seen a single one, and I’ve realised now this is mainly down to the odd route I took. So many people cycle across Turkey but so few cycle inland and in the south-west, and that’s the reason, I believe, why I was being treated like a celebrity wherever I went. (One host told me “Jamie, you might be the only tourist in Konya right now.” A city of over one million people.)
Anyway back to Cappadocia. I had a great time, got stuck, it rained consecutively for 4 days and so didn’t bother leaving when I planned.
One of the best things about bicycle touring is you have a bicycle with you everywhere you go. That sounds stupidly obvious, but Cappadocia is practically made for cycling. So it was great to dump the panniers and hit the trails. It would be better on a mountain bike but if you’ve got a steel frame and strong wheels, who cares?
A couple of days before I left, I met Juliet and Miche, a French and Belgian couple who had just arrived on their touring bikes. The first cycle tourers I’ve met in Turkey so far *celebrates internally* They started their trip in Southeast Asia, went to India, then took a plane to Oman, crossed to Iran and continued to Turkey. I told them about my trip.
“Wait,” Juliet wondered, “It took you 4 years to get here and you want to cycle to China before September??“
I know, right. It sounds ridiculous. First it was Thailand, then it was China. The finish line is getting closer and closer. Soon it will be “Let’s cycle to the next town!” Oh my god guys, did you hear where Jamie is going now? He’s going to cycle to the next town! He’s going to try and do it in 4 years!
I left shortly after meeting them (to cycle to China maybe).
And became a celebrity again.